Idaho teacher of the year to IEA convention: Persevere to overcome 'attack' on the profession

Erin Lenz told about 400 Idaho Education Association colleagues in a speech Friday in Boise that hard work, persistence, collegiality and union solidarity are key to the struggles faced by Idaho teachers and their students.

"As educators, we are faced with a daunting task," Lenz said in prepared remarks made available on the IEA website. "How do we continue to teach children with all the energy and passion needed and fight those who attack our profession?

"How can we be innovative in meeting the challenges of 21st Century classrooms when some of education’s stakeholders refuse to acknowledge our voices? What will we do to combat the corrosive discouragement amongst teachers that has eaten away at morale and has driven some to leave the profession? I wish these problems were easy to solve but there isn’t a simple solution. It will take hard work and perseverance to overcome them."

Lenz is a nominee for national teacher of the year, an award to be announced Tuesday in the Rose Garden at the White House.

Lenz, who will celebrate her 35th wedding anniversary in June, came late to teaching. She worked four years as a paraprofessional and the last 11 years as a teacher. She said her husband, a union member for 35 years, earned wages and benefits that "gave us the solid foundation we needed to raise a family."

"For decades, union members have been the backbone of America," Lenz continued. "From Detroit to Hollywood to Pittsburgh to Boise, it has been union members who have kept us safe, responded to our emergencies, delivered the mail, assembled the automobiles, erected the buildings, built our dams, roads and bridges, and taught America’s children. I have witnessed firsthand the benefits of belonging to a strong union. My family is an example of what unions have done for our nation. In fact, I would not have attended college to become a teacher without my husband’s ability to provide for our family as a result of being paid a fair living wage."

Lenz teaches at Coeur d'Alene's Winton Elementary School and spoke of her passion for working with beginning and struggling readers.

"For those of you who work with struggling readers, you understand how heartbreaking it is to work with children who with each passing year become more defeated when their efforts to read go unrewarded," Lenz said. "Witnessing this heartbreak has been a driving force for me as a teacher."

The 120th delegate assembly of the Idaho Education Association continues Saturday at the Boise Centre.

The group also will honor two Boise parents -- Maria Greeley and Mike Lanza -- who helped found Idaho Parents and Teachers Together. Last year, the group joined with the IEA to collect signatures to put three referendums repealing the 2011 "Students Come First" school reform laws on the Nov. 6 ballot for possible repeal. Greeley also will be honored for her efforts to help pass a levy in the Boise School District in March.

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The Kiss of Death

Yeah listen to this clown and see where it gets you. Solidarity, Collegiality? Seriously, the union is painting you in a corner, while the IEA is demonizing the State of Idaho as an "attack" on the profession? Give me a break. No matter...hang in there with the union...fight for tenure...while the Charter schools continue to erode your base, provide a better learning environment with less bureaucracy. Nothing like the teachers and the school system at odds with each other with your kids in the middle.

Prove it

Prove the long term success of Charters over public schools
THere are some successes while most achieve about the same.
Must be nice for charter schools to limit enrollment and weed out those they don't want. Poor behavior? there's the door. Won't do the work? there's the door.
Must be nice, public schools don't get the ability to do that on TAXPAYER MONEY.
EVERY Charter school is its own district, with few exceptions, the state doesn't give more money it just means less for everyone else as each one opens. Now they took the cap off. How long will charters in existence be able to function as many new ones open? Same pot, many more fingers. This is good how?

The Republican state leadership...

The Republican state leadership would rather not have our children in the middle of these discussions. Republican leadership would rather have children left completely out of the conversation. Republican leadership's willingness to defeat unions (and the empowerment of individuals through collective bargaining) at the expense of our children's education will be the kiss of death of the Republican party.

First they came for the

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

You didn't buy a gun


"foreignoregonian" is not anonymous

It is my identity and my philosophy

Would you prefer everyone to be called 'Poster'?

Clown...? Really..?

Attitudes such as that regarding Idaho's teacher of the year pretty much proves her point regarding the ever present 'attack' on the profession.


And when Rex Rammell says something- EVERYONE says 'what a clown". Because he is one.

Does Rammell come back with "don't attack our profession".

Oh, and then 1 of his 10 supporters says, "attitudes such as that calling Idaho politicians clowns is proof of an attack on Idaho politicians".

School is out RP. party for the weekend!

Charter schools on average

Charter schools on average perform no better than regular public schools. Ther eis no teacher tenure in Idaho and never has been.

Read much? The Boise School District is one of the top 20...

Read much? The Boise School District is one of the top 20 in the nation. All four high schools are rated highly performing schools. I used to be fiercely anti-government union until I watched our Idaho Legislators defund public education the past two years.

Charter schools? See the success...or lack of it in the State that started it all.

I agree that the Boise

I agree that the Boise School District has done a commendable job thanks in large part to their teachers. Unfortunately, they have had to achieve that success in spite of the State of Idaho, not because of it. Thankfully the voters of the BSD see the bigger picture and are willing to voluntarily pay (slightly) higher taxes to ensure the success of the next generation. Meanwhile, on a state level Idaho must think that our next generation of educated workers will move here from other states. Even Micron recognizes the fallacy of that line of thinking, as evidenced by their investments in BSU and the STEM programs.

Defunding public education is unconstitutional

Watch for Idaho Legislators next to abuse the important mission to increase college degreed adults and adults with certifications to 60%.

If true to form, Idaho Legislators will use this important mission to repay in kind their contributors K-12 Corporation, Apollo Group/University of Phoenix and the For-profit education companies.

Reference the Harkins investigations, the multistate Attorney General investigation (Oregon’s AG participated; Idaho AG Wasden did not), the Education Trust Report Subprime, and the Frontline investigation of Apollo Group/University of Phoenix and the For-profit education companies.

How much did K-12 Corporation (under SEC investigation) and Apollo Group/University of Phoenix pay each Idaho Legislator last year? Did the largest contributions go to those who deep sixed the Cronin Bill that would protect Idaho Citizens by providing much needed oversight of the For-profit education companies in Idaho? How much money did Mr. Nonini receive who covered for K-12 Corporation and promptly deep sixed the Cronin Bill?

Abramoff: "Fire up the jet baby, we're going to El Paso!!" Mike Scanlon: "I want all their MONEY!!!"
Email interchange between Jack Abramoff and Mike Scanlon, February 6, 2002.

Balancing the budget is mandated by the State constitution...

Making tough decisions about funding even if it means cutting educational spending is, therefore, wholly constitutional.

We're good.

Giving tax breaks to the richest of the state is not though.

But clearly shows where this state's Republican politicians place their emphasis.

"No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government." Neil Peart

That is the State's prerogative. Try being a state.


"foreignoregonian" is not anonymous

It is my identity and my philosophy

Would you prefer everyone to be called 'Poster'?

If you think that money should have gone towards education

then you may be an IEA member.

If you think spending more than 50% of the State's budget on education is sustainable then you may be an IEA member.

If you believe education reform means adding more teaching jobs then you may be an IEA member.

Seriously, I didn't necessarily agree with the tax breaks but at least the legislature restored $35 million to the education budget before granting the tax breaks.

Of course, the IEA membership will never be happy with just that. They want more teaching jobs. They want more people to pay association dues. They want tenure. They want collective bargaining rights. They want a small student-to-teacher close to 1:1 as they can get. Finally, they want immunity from the same economic hardships the rest of Idahoans face everyday.

Not an IEA member...but have some experience in this area.

I was merely refuting your comment that education cuts are not necessarily due to budget crisis, but are due to an indifference to education by many of our legislators.

The student to teacher ratio is a killer though. The arguments being posted that it doesn't matter doesn't reflect reality and can only come from someone inexperienced in running a classroom (as I did briefly in my earlier adult life). I don't think throwing money at a problem helps it, but that's what Tom Luna is doing too by throwing money at computer companies and private corporate online educators despite no significant studies showing his approach is best for the student composition of Idaho schools.

We are a diverse society with many different constituents whose needs are met via our education system. I don't believe Idaho is going the right way, and am extremely disappointed we elected a man who has no classroom or even administrative experience in this area (being on the school board does not count as that is mostly high level budget and curriculum decisions, and as divorced from the actual education of pupils as you can get and still be 'involved' in the process).

"No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government." Neil Peart

I'm more conservative than you....

Nope not a teachers Union member. I was flying the Gadsden Flag before flying the Gadsden Flag was cool.

Have only voted for only one national Dem my entire life. In fact, I was fiercely anti-government worker Union until I watched Idaho Legislators defund public education this year and last.

Equally concerned that Idaho Legislators gave short shrift to Boise School District teachers and kowtowed to the For-profit Education lobbyists.

Abramoff: "Fire up the jet baby, we're going to El Paso!!" Mike Scanlon: "I want all their MONEY!!!"
Email interchange between Jack Abramoff and Mike Scanlon, February 6, 2002

In other words, you're liberally conservative? :-)

NEWS FLASH!!! Legislators didn't "defund" education. They made tough choices. If you are so well-versed in the situation then you should also recall the legislature and governor's office were in disagreement over just how dire the revenue forecast was for 2012. Fortunately, both were wrong but not by much.

Take a look at the funding situation as compiled Jan 2011:

Notice school technology upgrades are largest in 2012 and 2013. Notice also starting in 2013 pay-for-performance is funded with $38 million dollars! That's money in good teachers' pockets.

Yes, the union has you hoodwinked and you're just gullible enough to believe them.

To mitigate damages to the Boise School District ...

To mitigate damages to the Boise School District, BSD Tax Payers were forced to pass the recent levy. Similar to a State having to defend it's borders when that job falls to the Feds.

What damage?

There wasn't any damage to the BSD. It would have weathered the downturn just fine like all the other school districts in Idaho. Belt-tightening isn't "damage" it's reality.

And the only border Idaho has to defend is the Canadian border.

Here's the "damage" as you call it all detailed out nicely for the next five years. Notice the only year funding fell short (by design) was 2012. Can you explain why? (HINT: It has something to do with the economy...use your exceptional Arizona-acquired reasoning skills to figure it out).


Hmm….surely you are correct. We misinformed, uneducated Boise School District citizens who voted for the levy to mitigate damages to our school district by Idaho Legislators are “dumber than a box of rocks.” I defer to your wisdom, all powerful wise one.

When public schools try to change things...

the parents go nuts.
The best time for teenagers to be in school is a 9am start, with elementary aged kids suited for a 730 start. Parents would freak out.
Try to change boundaries in Meridian to equalize class sizes and improve learning for all, NOOOOOOOO cried the 300 parents of Mtn View. No boundary change.

The biggest resistance to change in schools...parents if it affects their daycare time or Susy having to make new friends.

That's because they usually don't know what the crap they do.


"foreignoregonian" is not anonymous

It is my identity and my philosophy

Would you prefer everyone to be called 'Poster'?

Nobody is attacking your profession...

This is the problem with the IEA. You prepared your remarks based on the award form the IEA and the remarks are no political and meaningless. Had you simply stood up and spoken about how important being the best teacher you can be is, it would have resonated way better.

Then you lie and say your profession is being attacked, and you have added more fuel to already blazing fire. Had you not lied (NOBODY IS ATTACKING YOUR PROFESSION) in the first sentence, you would have some credibility. But you lied.

You are the recipient of an award that has only one meaning. You obviously sold out to the IEA political engine.

are you seriously that stupid?

There is an obvious attack on the teaching profession. Luna's (lack of) reform laws were meant to hurt the teachers union, send money to his donors and to help out private and charter schools. Republicans have tried for years to create a two-tiered educational system. They have tried for years to advocate for good schools for the rich, by trying to send state money to private and charter schools. And the rest of the schools for the poor, who can't afford anything else. And when the educational community brings up this attack, they are accused of being political pawns of the IEA. After that attack, comes the never-ending charge that teachers only work half the year and half-a-day when they do. There is no other industry, besides politicians, that is attacked by people as much as the teaching profession.

Nobody is attacking their profession...?

Including Tom Luna who is trying to replace 900 teachers with computers? Including many posters on this board who crow about how "easy" it is to be a teacher and how "overpaid" they are?

2X PRN for lying propganda


"foreignoregonian" is not anonymous

It is my identity and my philosophy

Would you prefer everyone to be called 'Poster'?

Idaho Legislators sold out to these guys.....

Abramoff: "Fire up the jet baby, we're going to El Paso!!" Mike Scanlon: "I want all their MONEY!!!"
Email interchange between Jack Abramoff and Mike Scanlon, February 6, 2002.


You must not be reading the comments section. As for the republicans in this state, they aren't attacking the the teachers nearly as much as they are the children of the state of Idaho.

Harsh Light of Reality

I bet Ms. Lenz is an awesome teacher. And it's likely she's not trying to indoctrinate her kids to her narrow view of the world.

Does the economy have any sway, in Ms. Lenz' mind? It's unfortunate that money is scarce, but MANY professions are difficult these days. We're all stretching those dollars and strained budgets.

Is the migration to automation, online learning, etc., part of the "attack"? Progress marches on. Education in 2012 is far different than it was 50 years ago. Better in many ways, worse in many ways.

Surely the notion of MERIT PAY, while frowned upon by "union thinkers," will preserve those teachers who have the "energy and passion" that Ms. Lenz is talking about. She needs to face the reality that some of her colleagues are boat anchors. Should the "duds" be getting the same reward as the energetic, passionate teachers? What does the Union say?

who's that

"those who attack our profession?"

Being defensive is seldom a good characteristic.

Sometimes though it's being realistic.

"Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not to get you."

"And the things that we fear, are a weapon to be held against us." Neil Peart

they'll get you faster

you know they will


"foreignoregonian" is not anonymous

It is my identity and my philosophy

Would you prefer everyone to be called 'Poster'?

Union Politics

The primary criterion for selecting the Obamunist Nominee for Teacher? of the Year.

Suffer the little childrens...

...because anyone that believes a teacher's union exists to benefit your children has been hoodwinked.

The new laws don't hurt students. They take powers away from the teacher's union so the union spins it as bad for STUDENTS. That's the only way they can get support from parents. It's a scare tactic.

"how heartbreaking it is to work with children who with each passing year become more defeated when their efforts to read go unrewarded"

See?!? Now it's about how the STUDENTS' efforts go unrewarded. The message is based on flawed logic, i.e., If you preserve the teacher's union then your students are rewarded for their efforts.

Suffer the poor little childrens.

The same can be said of a for-profit business ya know...

If you think a for-profit business exists to benefit your children, you might be a Republican, and pretty naive to boot.

"No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government." Neil Peart

Bring value to the shareholders instead of Idaho Citizens.

I agree. For-profit education exists to bring value to the shareholders rather than to Idaho Citizens. Imagine a For-profit police department, fire department, or corrections facility. All would need to repaint the doors of company more "protect and serve." That would be replace by "we exist to make money for the owners of this company."

"The new laws don't hurt

"The new laws don't hurt students?" Are you kidding me? It's not going to hurt students to have 35-40 kids in the classroom? It's not going to hurt students to implement plans dreamed up by central state bureaucrats without any input from the local school districts?

Input or hot air?

Oh, the union gave plenty of input all of it bogus. Sherri Wood hasn't been gone all that long ya know.

Can you cite any evidence a larger classroom means poorer performance? Or, are you just hoodwinked by the union?

Face it, the problem is union busting. Re-read the above teacher's comments. No doubt about it, pro union all the way.

Educational expenditures consume over half of the general budget. And the union wants to guard that at any expense including funding pro-levy efforts to the tune of $80,000.

Suffer the little childrens. Say anything to scare parents into believing a union preserved benefits students.

Heck, look at the above rhetoric. Now the union has decided to adopt the same "21st Century classroom" descriptive as though they were onboard with that all along...give me a break!


If you haven't seen the clear evidence that class size has a direct impact on student performance, than you haven't been looking very hard. Check out the STAR experiment in Tennessee (I know, it's not fair to cite a study from such a liberal bastion as Tennessee). Similar studies have been conducted in Wisconsin and California, among others. Really, I don't think lengthy studies are needed to understand the effect of class size on the effectiveness of student success. Just do a little thought exercise with me. If you have a 50 minute class from bell to bell, minus a few minutes on each end for getting the young 'uns settled down, you might have 45 minutes of instruction time left if you're lucky. If you blaze through a lesson in 15 minutes, you're left with 30 minutes for individual interaction with students. That's one minute. Do you have children? If so, can you coach them through a complicated concept in math, science, English, history et cetera in 60 seconds? If so, then kudos to you. Now try repeating that success 30 times in a row without stopping.

Seriously, if you aren't just being cynical and you actually want to know how class size affects the success rate of students, the information is readily available. If you would prefer to trust the altruistic nature of the corporations that wish to take over U.S. education, then you may not be happy with the results in a decade or two. Of course, by then the public education system will have been dismantled beyond recovery. I'm sure China will sell us a well educated next generation to build our roads and bridges, synthesize our new medicines, treat our illnesses, and...teach our children.

If you're not good at teaching...

...move on and make room for those teachers that can handle it.

Your thought experiment shows you can't handle teaching because you're re-teaching the same concepts repeatedly to make up for your inability to teach the entire class at the same time.

An experienced teacher already knows what most of the questions students might (and do) ask will be and they tailor the lesson plan accordingly. How do they know? Because the teacher learns it from past students! Maybe you're just a little slow in that regard?

Try actually teaching sometime or get someone in there that knows what they're doing. The new laws allow for exactly that and rewards the better teachers for their efforts.

Statesman: The word c-l-a-s-s-e-s was flagged by your censor program as a-s-s-e-s. R-i-d-i-c-u-l-o-u-s!

Your perverse argument

Your perverse argument fails. Those highly educated Chinese are products of large class sizes, which you claim are a barrier to quality education.


"Class sizes in mainland China are generally large: the national norm is 50 students. However, in rural areas where good schools are sparse, it is not unusual to see class-es of over 80 or in the extreme case, over 100. Parents often indicate their preference for better schools and better teachers over smaller class-es. However, in major cities (and Shanghai is typical), recent drastic declines in population have forced local governments to adopt small class-es so as to minimise teacher layoffs. This has significantly reduced teachers’ workload and created room for student activities during lessons that would be impossible in large class-es." (hyphens added to avoid rogue profanity checker.)

So just like here, smaller class sizes are enacted to avoid reducing the number teachers. The only difference is here, the teachers union propagates lies to further their cause.

Are you really comparing

Are you really comparing Chinese culture to American culture and citing that as evidence for larger cla-ss sizes? Ever hear of logical fallacy?

Orwell was right when he said that people so easily imitate language that when it comes to politics those who subscribe to a party will eventually begin imitating the slogans of the party. In other words, just create slogans and those who subscribe to the party will start spewing them. Funny how this anti-union attitude came about just after the R party began an anti-union campaign.

If the Republican party began a slogan called War is Peace, I wonder how many of the posters on here would be saying the same thing. Time to read 1984. It's scary just how close we are when we can already see that Ignorance is Strength.

High educated to make crap and die.


"foreignoregonian" is not anonymous

It is my identity and my philosophy

Would you prefer everyone to be called 'Poster'?

So now Communists are right? Call the Birchers; they lost!

Remember when Republicans hated the real communists?

"No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government." Neil Peart

Did Idaho Legislators spend any time listening to BSD teachers?

Good point. Did Idaho Legislators spend any time listening to Boise School District teachers to identify "best practices." One of only 20 school districts nationally with all four high schools rated at "highly performing schools."

Class sizes? Arizona State University is the largest public University in the nation. Math and Science class size? Capped at 19 students. Overall faculty to student ratio is 1 to 24. Oh…and before I become vilified as an out-of-state graduate of some inferior out-of-state school. I grew up in Idaho. Proud Boise High School graduate. Great teachers. And my Alma Mater is an impressive top tier research University. 1 to 19 ratio in the math and sciences is important to a young adult. Even more important to Primary, Middle, and Secondary school age students.

President Crow lauded as one of the "most innovative and practical thinkers"
One of the top 100 world universities
Wall Street Journal ranks ASU 5th in the nation for recruiting new hires
ASU among top schools for student Fulbright awards
ASU's percentage of winning applications was higher than any of the other top 15 Fulbright institutions.
ASU ranked in the top tier of national universities
Forbes magazine ranks ASU as one of America’s 'Best College Buys'
ASU named one of nation's best, greenest universities
ASU named 6th in the country for veterans
ASU ranks among best in US for graduate degrees to ethnic minorities
ASU ranked in top 25 in the world in biological sciences
Graduate school rankings place ASU among best in US
ASU's MBA grads outpace national average in job placement
Bloomberg BusinessWeek ranks ASU's W. P. Carey School among nation's best
Business school among best grad schools again U.S. News & World Report.
ASU ranks 21st among most influential universities in field of mathematics
Graduate education programs gain national recognition
Cronkite students best in the country
Nursing and Health Innovation ranked in top 4 percent of graduate nursing programs
ASU among top schools for Peace Corps volunteers
One of the top universities chosen by international students
ASU selected to join prestigious Changemaker Campus Consortium
ASU receives presidential recognition for community service
ASU ranks 2nd in Pac-10 in NCAA Academic Progress Ratings
One of the nation's top 40 'coolest' schools

There is No Attack

Such statements are politically motivated and not based on reality. This is a union scam. If there was an attack on teachers we would fire a lot of them for their blatant irresponsible political indoctrination attempts. We do not though. We let their socialist oriented gobbeldygook go on.

The union has done a swell job:
The entire system has earned criticism.

PRN! Keep this cat out of jail.


"foreignoregonian" is not anonymous

It is my identity and my philosophy

Would you prefer everyone to be called 'Poster'?

Union/Liberal shill

Erin...this is all you have sad..I'm sure you started as a teacher wanting to make a difference, now you just want to get yours, blindly support union thugs (when are you going to damage Luna's property again), and support Obama... why bother, if Obama gets another term, there will not be enough creative math to keep the unemployment below 15% and the deficit below 20 trillion dollars...explain to your student how they are going to pay off this deficit with no jobs....